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Sons Of Speed
Article By: Xavier Muriel
Photos By: Heather Callen & Melissa Shoemaker
Originally Published In The June 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Howdy Y’all, can you tell I just got back from the annual Giddy Up, in New Braunfels Texas, about an hour south of Austin. Like most events, what started out as a few guys getting together to talk and show their work off, soon grew into a must-attend gathering. Set way back off Hwy 35 in a sleepy little dusty town, is an assembly of what you would probably see in the olden days of riding. Did you ever see those old biker movies where the grain of the film matches the dirt in the hair of the actors? Well, that’s what this looks like. As a first-time attendee, I was anxious to see what the turn our would be like. Man, was I blown away. Tons of bikes yet the opposite of what I just experienced at Bike Week just a few weeks ago. Most of the bikes, not all, but most looked like they had been ridden in from the other side of the country. The deter people from showing up in droves either. The day was too bitchin for that. There were plenty of vendors on hand, and one lucky person won a Knucklehead built by my buddy Matt Jackson of Jackson’s Choppers. Talk about worth the price of a ticket! It looks like Texas is adding another awesome bike event to its already long distinguished roster. The Giddy Up will only continue to grow in size because after all, Everything Is Bigger In Texas!
So, now let’s move back in time a bit and to the east coast. Daytona, I was there for Bike Week 2018. Once again Daytona outdid itself. I showed up two weeks before to help Billy get ready for the fourth running of Sons of Speed Vintage Bike Race but before I get into that let me tell you a little bit about my time in Daytona. By Wednesday the bikes and trailers were already rolling in. The locals say you can judge a promising rally based on how early people start showing up. Main Street during the first weekend was slammed with bikes and folks who were there to blow off a little steam. I wasn’t partying with the rest, but I was fortunate enough along with Arlin Fatland and Billy to visit Carl of the world-famous Carl’s Speed Shop before they closed the doors for retirement after many decades of builds and salt flat records. Talk about being in the presence of greatness; Carl invented the Typhoon carb. If you know anything about anything, that carb looked menacing and was built specifically for high horsepower applications. If you were fortunate enough to own one of those back in the day you were a bad mofo! To walk around his shop and listen to Arlin and Carl talk about the good ol days was not only a glimpse into where it at all came from but a lesson in nostalgia like no other. Billy and I were in awe of their stories. As a staple in Daytona and an icon of motorcycling Carl’s presence will be missed, but like he said, “It’s time to let someone else take it from here.”
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that I popped a cherry in Daytona this year, my own. I, for the first time in all the years of being in Daytona during rally, I was attended Willie’s Choppertime. Yep, I finally did it. For years, I heard about what an epic day it is, and I’ll be damned I have to agree. I stood there in a sea of choppers, my head spinning as it tried to take in one killer bike after another. It was like a who’s who in the East Coast custom scene. I’m not gonna lie, at times it was sensory overload with the throngs of people, BBQ outback and the cool rockabilly music filtering its way through but after that one afternoon, I know why it’s a staple of Daytona and that I won’t miss it again. This year’s Sons of Speed was off the chain. In only one years’ time, it has grown from eight riders to well over 30. I have to believe a large part of that growth is greatly due to the addition of the 45class. This was a smart move and a huge success.
There was a whole new group of riders that were experiencing the thrill for the first time. The bikes were fast as hell, some considerably faster than others and at times the leaders from that class were ten seconds or better ahead of the pack, after lapping them. It made for some exciting racing and gave us all a few moments where we held our breath as well. As Sons of Speed progresses, it’s kinda neat to see that not only the images of a time gone by are being relived but all the ideology that was probably what it was like back then too. What I mean is this: looking across the pit area you could see some class separations. You had the privateer guys who were down and dirty and not nearly as polished as some. The upscale teams, with very finely finished machines and then the corporate racer or two who had pit crews with uniforms and everything matched from their bikes to their outfits. Once the green flag came out, those social politics mattered nearly not at all. It was the pure adrenaline filled passion that drove every single racer on that track and fans took it all in, heat after heat.
The women on hand expanded from last year’s Brittney Olson and Shelly Rossmeyer, who were back for year two but also welcomed land speed record holder Jody Perewitz into their stable. In true racer form, Jody was out there giving it hell, like it was something she had been doing for years. Along with other veterans running their tried and true machines, we did see a few new riders among the men as well, one of whom was Tom Keefer from Franklin Church Choppers. Tom was my pit guy in 2017 and made the jump to rider this year. Not only did he build his racer himself, but he raced it and did exceptionally well, he should be proud of his first race. It was awesome to watch the excitement and dare I say a little bit of fear in his eyes as he took what not only was a beautiful machine but one hell of a fast bike around the track for the first time. It never ceases to amaze me to watch these 90+-year-old motors do what they do, but also each rider is reminded of the inherent dangers these machines possess. Like back in the day, the chances of a rider going down is always at the forefront of not only the pilot but everyone involved.
Moonshiner Josh went down on practice day and was hospitalized. As we go to print, I can very happily report that he is out and recovering from seven broken ribs, a punctured lung, and surgery for his injured hand. Josh is no novice to racing and realizes that it’s all part of the sport. He’ll be back stronger and more determined to secure that checkered flag in October. All of us live to race another day, and that’s what’s important. As for the victor of the day from the old bikes, it was Matt Walksler from Period Modified who took home the trophy, handmade by Bill McCann, and the title of 2018 champion. In the new 45 class, Doug Young took home the inaugural championship. This was a killer addition to the program and one we hope see continue to grow. All in all, it was a full day of racing, and by the end of it, we were all ready to grab a shower and head to Giuseppe’s Steel City Pizza where Big Joe and JoJo had a spread laid out for all the racers and crews. These guys took care of all of us all week long, and we can’t thank them enough. I closed out my week in Daytona doing what we all love. Riding. Thanks to Chris for letting me borrow “A Little Twisted” I along with, Billy from Twisted Tea, Jay Allen, Ray Ray, the guys from Yard Ratz, Kissa Von Adams and Michael Lichter spent a glorious afternoon rolling along under the ancient oaks covered in Spanish moss. It couldn’t have been a better way to end my time in the Sunshine state. Well, my Brothers and Sisters, I bid you adieux. Ride Safe and be kind to One Another
God Bless, X.